7” Survey: Isla Craig

Every edition of this season’s Long Winter, the first 350 guests through the doors at The Great Hall will receive a free split seven-inch from Scion Sessions, each side featuring a song from one of the night’s featured artists. To compliment the releases, we’ll issue a seven-part questionnaire to each of the artists involved, giving the subjects an inch (about 85 words) of space to answer each of our questions.

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The January instalment of the Scion Sessions Split 7” Series features a track each from Isla Craig and Weaves. In this questionnaire with Isla Craig, the singer talks about the different shapes the solo project has taken: from a cappella collaboration with the Soul Sisters Supreme Redux Vs. 2.0, to a full band iteration with Brandon Valdivia, Colin Fisher, and Mike Smith. Read the full questionnaire below.

Long Winter: Who are you and how did this project come to be?

Isla Craig: I was born and continue on the path of this life as Isla Craig. I am a singer, feeler, songwriter, collaborator, working out of Toronto, Canada. I feel sound and rhythm in my body and take that feeling and put it through my throat to create / find melody.  My most recent work, Both the One & the Other is an a cappella collaboration with the Soul Sisters Supreme Redux Vs. 2.0, featuring Daniela Gesundheit, Tamara Lindeman, Ivy Mairi, and Felicity Williams.  I wanted to do something musically that wasn't attached to gear and set up - something straight shooting and from the heart.  I am inspired by body rhythms and feelings of deep soul.

LW: How about “Messages” – what inspired that?

IC: “Messages” was a song I wrote in one sitting - it just came through. I wrote it as a reminder to myself about the messages/guidance that exists in all corners of life. Sometimes things get rough or distracting, but even in those times there is earth, animals, the cosmos, the body, pulsations and beats; simplicity. It's about returning to these unwavering supports and recognizing the self as an ever-evolving thing.

LW: For lots of listeners, this will be their first point of access to your music. Where does this song fit into the rest of your catalog?

IC: People are most enthusiastic about this song. I think it has a lot to do with the rhythm. There is a pretty strong sense of rhythm throughout all of my work, so if you're into that, here it is.  It is the bed of sound – you’ve gotta FEEEL the music, there has got to be a flow - stepping into the river of song, you get carried along.

LW: Once they’re turned on to this, what releases (songs, EPs, albums, or otherwise) should people pursue as logical next steps to getting to know your music?

IC: I released my first record Isla Craig & the Continental Driftin 2009. It is a full band recording (feat. Colin Fisher, Mike Smith, and Brandon Valdivia) and sounds like a smattering of flavours and folk music styles, but also has languid psych/blues drone moments. Both the One & the Other is my second independent release (2012).  It focuses on the voice as the primary instrument.  I also make R&B jams with my pal Thom Gill in OG Melody and play reggae covers with New Civilizations.

LW: When you think of winter, what’s a memory that stands out for you?

IC: A memory of more recent winter times stands out - driving with my brother to visit our parents in New Brunswick for the holidays.  Crossing the border into NB, seeing the snow held in all the trees and driving down very dangerous logging roads. It is real winter - a challenge and totally beautiful if you can slow down enough to be in it.

LW: How do you survive winters in Toronto?

IC: Winter is a time when the interior world really comes alive.  It is also a time of survival. Like all seasonal change, it causes a shifting in focus and a re-evaluation of self.  For me, winter is all about food, scotch, baths, reading more, and wearing fancier clothing styles.

LW: What are you most looking forward to for the January edition of Long Winter?

IC: Playing with a full band! SSSRV2.0 will still be in the mix, but this is the first show in more than a year and a half that I've played with a band.  It's nice to revisit this music I wrote for voice and see how the instrumentation and rhythm will find its way in. The band features Colin Fisher, Scott Peterson, Chris Sandes and Brandon Valdivia. After this show, I'll be stepping away from performing live so much to focus on writing new material – bring on the winter.

Interview by Tom Beedham